Saturday, August 15, 2015

Day Two: Essentials

Day Two. A lot happened today. Here are today's highlights. Either read straight through, or just read the headlines and view pictures (like I do the news.)

We were treated to a beautiful sunrise on our first full day in Berlin. I guess that's our treat for waking up so darn early. It was lovely to eat breakfast while watching the sun peak through the clouds. As soon as the sun did come out, however, it was a race to close the shades to keep it out, as it was another hot, hot day. Side note: the shades are electric-outdoor blinds. Pretty snazzy. We're wondering how much it would cost for us to get these for our house back home.

Above, you'll see a photo of the front of our building. On the left, a pinkish-beige building, on the right, an olive-green building. We're sandwiched in the middle. If you look closely, the door to our building is on the left. The larger opening in the middle is wide enough for a car to drive through (maybe to pick up the trash bins?), and then on the right, is a store front. We're not sure if it's a cafe, an office, or a furniture store, but this is where our contact was waiting to greet us. It's part of the building, for sure, just not sure of it's purpose. Anyway, those areas are all on the ground floor. Then above that is floor 1 and above that is floor 2, where we live. Now would you say we're on floor 2? Or floor 3? I say, technically we're on floor 3, but the elevator calls the ground floor "0", so we end up on 2. Either way, you can figure out where our apartment is.

Doors painted with our street name and neighbourhood. (left)
Ample Man alerting pedestrians to stop. (right)
We spent much of the day walking (Chris and I both clocked over sixteen thousand steps) around the neighbourhood. I am completely mixed up as to what is North, South, East, and West. I typically have a good feel for where I am if I have an ocean to keep to the west, or a mountain range to keep to the east. But here, it's very flat and I haven't gotten it figured out yet. So, as we're walking all over, I haven't gotten a feel for if we're headed south or north, east or west. I'll get there, but for now, it's very disorienting.

At the Farmers Market: Venice ate raspberries (left)
Chris and Xander got sausages (Chris got currywurst from "Restaurant Zander"
Chris and Diana shared a falaffel sandwhich ((right)
We decided to check out the Farmers Market today. We figure we'll probably be going here once a week. We also thought that if we walked in a zig-zag fashion, we'd see more of the neighbourhood and would possibly find stores for the future, or stores that we need now. It was perfect. We walked past several parks, markets, and we found a housewares store. where we bought ice-cube trays, glass bottles to hold water in the refrigerator (the kids are more likely to drink the water if it's cold, and we, also, enjoy the water being crsipy-cold on hot days like today), a few bowls (the apartment only came with two cereal size bowls), and a few other items.

The worst part of the Farmers Market is our discovery of bees. It is bee season here and they follow us everywhere. They smell American blood and love us. So, eating outside is hard, eating inside is hard (no screens anywhere so bees everywhere) and the kids are afraid, the younger one more. So, it has been tricky to eat in peace.

While on our way to the farmers market, we came across another market. Not surprising, Chris had see this market when he visited on his own weeks ago. But surprising to be discovered so close to our apartment. Side note: we stumbled across two more markets within a few blocks from our apartment, so we'll have many choices on where to get food depending on what we want or where we are when we want something. We looked around this market on the way to the Farmers Market, and then on the way home, we actually shopped there.

Venice photographing Xander on the merry-go-round. (left)
Xander turning the hand crank to make the merry-go-round go around. (middle)
Venice photographing the "stair-less" escalator we used about 10 times today. (right)
This market, is particularly large, bright, open, fresh, and clean. It had everything you could need (except salt, we spent a lot of time looking for salt and couldn't find it!) We bought a lot of groceries here today. Waters (to taste test at home, so the kids will actually drink some), snacks, cheese, other drinks, apples, tomatoes, and more. On the top floor, there is a small area for kids to play while the parents shop. It overlooks the escalators. There is a net beyond the tall window, I figure, it's to catch any child deciding to climb over and jump or fall.

After a brief rest, we were deciding what to do before the stores closed. We didn't think the family had energy to do the last two errands of the day (obtain fans and an espresso maker). Triage time. I was sweltering in the heat, so I begged for fans. Chris found OBI was a hardware store within walking distance, so we opted to go there. Is it international for hardware stores to be orange? Can't help but think of Home Depot. And when we lived in CA, there was OSH. Anyway, OBI's website had several fans to choose from, but when we got there, they only had the 13" fans available. Very tiny. But I was desperate. We also got a few other items (hangers, trash bags, but we decided to wait on a broom or mop). We had to keep in mind that we were walking home. So far my backpack has come in handy and is working well.

We're on the lookout for funny food names. At the big market, we found BioLust (The company name), which Venice thinks sounds like a name for a perfume. And Xander saw "Finger Noodles".

The kids have also been wondering what kind of snacks from home will they miss and what will be available here. We were on our way home, when we had to stop for more drinks, to keep us hydrated, and we stumbled across a few tasty snacks. Venice was super delighted to find OREOs here. Phew! We did buy some. They taste the same. We also found some chips (which we did not buy this time) called "Western Style Sweet and Spicy" (which looks an awful lot like BBQ flavour from the picture), and an entire case of Ben and Jerry's ice cream! We didn't have time to look at all the flavours of ice cream, and to be honest, I didn't think to look until we were home. I do wonder if they have any flavours different than the U.S.?

So, on all our excursions today, we saw many, many parks for kids. Some seemed to be locked, as far as we can tell, some are only open certain hours, others were possibly schools. But there were many that were open and the kids tried as many as they could. It's fantastic to have so much within walking distance.

The best park, which we'll have to visit again, had a water feature with a water pump and natural surroundings to create water ways in the sand. At this same park, live two rabbits, whose names I'm forgetting. They are fed on Tuesdays and Fridays, so perhaps we'll go back to see them fed. They are giant rabbits... maybe 30 pounds each? There was also a section that was currently closed, but had open hours we'll try another day. It was a large area to be explored by kids. The sign, as far as we could translate, said kids 3-16 and specifically said no parents were allowed in. Kids don't have to announce their entry, they just go in and out without telling anyone. Our kids really want to go back to explore this area, it looks great with tall wooden structures to climb and more.

In the afternoon, we all rested. I went into the backroom to "read"... but fell asleep instead and took a nice nap. When I woke up, I found out that Chris had gone back to our local little store to buy a few things we needed (laundry detergent, kleenex, and more). Nice for things to be taken care of and nice to catch a few Z's.

Later, Chris decided last minute to make a mad dash to the espresso store, since they wouldn't be open on Sunday (as most stores aren't). It was after 6 and the store closed at 7. It is a 15 minute U-Bahn ride (the underground train) to the Gendarmenmarkt (high end shopping area). Venice decided to go with him. Xander wanted to stay home (he was melting hot). I stayed with Xander. The kids aren't quite ready to stay home alone. Understandable.

Dung beetles.
So, Xander and I watched a little TV, trying out all the TV stations we could find. We found that many stations repeated, some up to around 15 times! They really want us to watch that cooking show! But I finally found Comedy Central (and watched a few minutes of That 70's Show, an episode I just happened to have seen recently. I understood one line, "Ich bin sehr kalt." (I am so cold.) Yay, me! Ha. But then we kept changing channels, I was convinced there had to be cartoons somewhere. Not sure if I'm right in thinking the vocabulary and language will be easier to understand or if I'm wrong because cartoon mouths don't make the right "mouth movements". Anyway, we stumbled across The Simpsons. Couldn't understand a bit of it.

Turned one more channel and found a kid's channel. The show was Maja and the cast is a bunch of insects (bees, beetles, flies). After a few minutes of watching the current episode, we realised one of the bees farted. Did we really just hear that? As far as we could understand, this bee had a farting problem and everyone was offended by the smell. He was sad to be stinky. So he sought help in finding someone who made him a tincture to drink and he was all better. Then he could have ice cream. So maybe he really was lactose intolerant. The next episode, was even funnier. We realised it was about their friend, a dung beetle, preparing for a feast. So he was rolling dung balls from a giant heap of poop. His friends thought it was disgusting and a few flies landed on top of the big pile to have their own picnic. Xander and I thought it was disgusting! It definitely had us laughing and feeling grossed out at the same time.

Motorcade, as seenfrom our living room (left). Dinner time (right).
During one of these episodes, we heard a lot of car horns beeping. We went to the window and there was a motorcade of sorts. Lots of cars with flags on their cars, motorcycle escorts, more flags. The most prominent one was yellow with a black hand showing "four". I Googled and found that two years ago, on August 14, there was a massacre in Egypt by the police against protesters. No one is certain of the true origin of the hand symbol, but it was used by the protesters and supporters of the victims and protesters involved, as a peace symbol and solidarity. So, I guess the motorcade was a "parade" of sorts to commemorate this event.

After a quick shower, it was time to start dinner. Our first home cooked meal in Berlin. Chris and Venice returned, successful from their espresso endeavour. Chris helped finish dinner and we had a nice evening at home. Phew, it was a nice long day of shopping, walking, and exploring (and sweating).

1 comment:

  1. Again, such a wonderful thorough explanation of your doings. Thanks for all the details and photos to go along with your comments.